Happy 14th Birthday, Ella

Dear Ella,

Happy 14th birthday to you, my sweet flower child. Last year your birthday was pretty dang awful. I'm so glad that we were able to make it up to you this year and that everything went great! You decided (pretty last minute) that you were going to have a birthday party at our clubhouse pool, and we made it happen. But more on that later. 

On a related side-note, next year you'll be able to have your 15th birthday party at our house in our new pool! :)

This year really was a whirlwind and full of personal tests; mental, physical, emotional, academic. An opportunity came up where you (and Ronin) could attend Learning Gate Community School, an environmental magnet school in Lutz. This came together very quickly. Only one day before school was to begin at Learning Gate. LGCS is in a different county, so their start date was earlier than had you stayed at PVMS. We went and toured LGCS and you loved it and we thought it would be a good fit. You seemed excited to be in a new place and make new friends. You started off the school year wanting to be a botanist. You ended the school year wanting to be an FBI Agent or CIA Operative. You started the school year around 5'4. You ended the school year at nearly 5'9, and wearing a size 10 shoe. WHAT??


These pants fit you in December. In 5 months you grew like 5 inches! 


This year was not without its challenges. You did great with making friends at your new school, and you even had your first real boyfriend. 

We did some of our normal traditions this year. We continued our annual trek to Busch Gardens for Howl-O-Scream, and this year Ronin went with us (thank goodness) and you and him were able to explore some of the scare zones.


And for the first time in a few years we went back down to Venice for Christmas. After we celebrated with family, I took the three of you to Siesta Key. I have taken you here before, but none of you remembered it. It just so happened that the night we went (Sunday, December 23) was "drum circle" night so we had that experience that evening, too.

And then in rolled 2019. Things sort of fell apart for a little while, but we got it all back together, and in May you graduated from 8th grade! I'm so proud of you. You really worked hard.

During this period of self-discovery, you found skateboarding! You really are a natural and work so hard at getting better. Not a day goes by when you aren't out on your board. 

And then summer vacation was upon us before we knew it! After our mishap on your birthday last year, Daddy and I decided to forego a family vacation and instead flew you and Haley up to visit with your Nanny for nearly 3 weeks, and you went on so many fun adventures: Dollywood, zip lining, cave exploring, and so much more!

I wish I knew what you and Haley were laughing about in this photo. You were at Bush's Baked Beans with your Nanny. I'm sure that it's probably fart related. 

You and Haley flew up to North Carolina all by yourselves! You navigated through the airports, and baggage claim with ease and confidence. 



You even packed your skateboard and went skating on vacation!

You flew home and 4 days later it was your birthday! You wanted a pool party and we managed to pull it off! You had a great time and so did your friends! We had pizza and cake and other snacks. There was a lot of laughing, lots of swimming, and you all even went out to the playground and played on the swings. 

And now the next chapter in your life is about to start; 9th grade and the start of high school. You decided that you were going to join the band as a member of the Color Guard, and I'm excited for your new band adventures. 

Ella, you are such a good girl. Kind and sweet. Full of empathy and goodness. I'm proud to be your mama. Now let's make this year the best one EVER!





Ella is 12

Happy 12th Birthday my sweet flower child!!

It doesn't seem that long ago that you were born. At dawn. In a flower garden. With only your daddy and I there. Here you are with daddy and big sister Haley just a short time after your birth.

This has been a very big year for you!! You started middle school!! 

You decided to try new things with you hair.


You tried out for the school play.

You learned some very hard lessons about what it means to be a good friend, and how you deserve to be treated by those people who claim to be your friends. 

But most importantly, you stayed true to you. 

You continue to love animals and developed an INTENSE and DRIVEN desire to fish. All the time. Fish. 

You love crafting and and were even featured in the newspaper!


You ran Gasparilla and Disney Dark Side!

This year also found you obsessed with Zombies. You read the Darren Shan Zom-B series, you watched the entire series of Z-Nation and even dressed up like a Zombie for Halloween.

You are giving me signs of the type of young woman you are becoming. You don't take BS from ANYONE; you don't need other people to make you happy. You are independent, funny, smart, athletic, but most of all, you are kind. 

I am so proud of you Ella and I am excited for you as you embark on your 12th year of life!

Happy birthday my Sweet Ella.

I love you,



Florida Prepaid Foundation Scholarship Program 2017

It's that time of year! I'm seeing photos of my friends' kids graduating from 5th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade and college! 

This year has FLOWN by. Earlier this year I talked about how I needed to open a 529 account for the #TampaTrio. Well, time slipped away from me, until TODAY!! Today I finally did it!! And while it's true that I am a Florida Prepaid College Plan Believer Blogger, I am also a very loyal customer!

Yes, they all have Florida Prepaid accounts, but my husband and I wanted to doubly make sure that there would be enough funds for them to do whatever they need to do while they are earning their degrees. And the 529 Plans can be used towards graduate school, and if my kids take after me at all, they will all end up earning advanced degrees.

So today I finally sat down and I did it. They are all signed up!



So now that I have finished that task, I'm here to tell you about a super cool opportunity for you to win a $529 scholarship for your kids!

The Florida 529 Savings Plan Scholarship Program will award 10 winners a $529 Scholarship deposited into a Florida 529 Savings Plan account, that’s a FREE $529 towards your child’s college education!  That's pretty sweet! And did you know that May 29 is celebrated nationwide as 529 College Savings Day.

I just love that. It's like May the Fourth Be with You! LOL. Makes me smile every single time.


Here’s the 411 on the 529:

How do you enter to win 1 of 10 Scholarships from Florida Prepaid College Plans?

It's SUPER EASY. First, go to Florida529SavingsPlanScholarship.com

There you'll get chances to earn extra entries by answering questions, learning more about saving for college and sharing on social media.

How often can you enter?

You can keep coming back to the site every day to learn more and get extra chances to win!

When does the giveaway period end? When do I have to enter by?

You can enter to WIN every day NOW through June 11, 2017.

Who can enter to WIN 1 of 10 Florida Prepaid Scholarships?

Florida residents over the age of 18.

Want to get started with a Florida Prepaid 529 Plan?

Visit Florida Prepaid College Plans online.

The Florida 529 Savings Plan lets families avoid debt by saving at their own pace for college expenses, from tuition and fees to housing and books. Your family can contribute as much and as often as desired, and accounts can be opened at any time.

There is no minimum contribution to open a Florida 529 Savings account, and there are no application fees. This makes the Florida 529 Savings Plan one of the most affordable ways for families to save for college.  That means you can get started saving for your child’s future with whatever amount you choose!  There is no minimum contribution!  I'll tell you what I started with. I did a $100 initial contribution and then a $100 monthly contribution for EACH kid. The hardest part for me was picking how I wanted the money invested. I wanted to be safe, yet with a high return. I'm typically pretty good with my investments, so we'll see how well I did come this time next year. 

Don’t forget to enter to win one of those 10 Florida Prepaid Foundation Scholarships

Florida Prepaid Foundation Scholarship Program 2017 - Win 1 of 10 Scholarships! on Having Fun Saving & Cooking

Follow Florida Prepaid College Plans on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube to stay up to date with information on not only the scholarship program and open enrollment but get tips on college and more.